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Updated: 11 hours 30 min ago

Zesty Reinvents Itself With New Cash for Automated Web Tech

Wed, 05/24/2017 - 10:28, a San Diego Web development firm, has raised $1.3 million in seed funding to spin out its consulting business, and focus instead on providing its core Web content management technology as a subscription-based software-as-a-service.

CEO Randy Apuzzo said Zesty changed from a Web development firm to to SaaS in 2015, with the guidance of successful entrepreneurs like GoFundMe co-founder Andy Ballester, Rocket League video game creator Dave Hagewood, and Facebook early operations engineer Taner Halicioglu. All three are San Diego angel investors, and together provided most of the seed financing round, Apuzzo said.

The company, which now has nine full-time... Read more »

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Unconventional Partners, Like FDA, Can Drive Adoption of New Tech

Wed, 05/24/2017 - 04:00

We’ve heard it time and again. Drug development is too expensive, takes too long, and many drug candidates that show promise in preclinical trials end up failing because testing methods don’t predict how they will work in humans.

Recently, new technologies have emerged that offer disruptive potential for steering the development of drugs in more precise, more predictable ways. These include artificial intelligence, gene editing, and Organs-on-Chips. And yet, this potential will only be realized if stakeholders from the entire drug development ecosystem collectively adopt and apply them to the complex drug development process.

A potentially disruptive technology won’t be disruptive... Read more »

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Gottlieb Says FDA’s “Regulatory Tools” Can Help Fight Opioid Abuse

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 20:01

The FDA considers how safe and effective a new drug is before approving it. But for addictive opioid painkillers, which have triggered a massive public health crisis, should the agency also weigh the potential for the medication to be abused?

That’s one of the questions that new FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is posing as he takes the reins of the nation’s drug regulator. The FDA has a role to play in addressing the opioid crisis, and its regulatory tools could help ensure that prescription medications are used only under the right circumstances, he wrote in a blog post on Tuesday. Reducing... Read more »

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FDA Landmark Nod: Cancer Drug To Match Tumor Genes, Not Tissue Type

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 18:23

For many years, doctors and researchers have known that cancers in different parts of the body can share genetic abnormalities. For the first time, the FDA has approved a drug based on those abnormalities and not on the organ in which the cancer originated.

It’s a moment that a lot of people in the cancer field have been waiting for. The CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and former top Genentech official Susan Desmond-Hellman wrote on Twitter: “20 yrs ago at Genentech I gave a speech dreaming of a cancer clinic with doors saying ‘HER2, EGFR, ..’, not ‘Breast,... Read more »

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ViaCyte Raises $10M, Moves to Human Trial with New Diabetes Product

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 02:14

San Diego-based ViaCyte said it is ready to move into human testing with a new product intended for patients with Type 1 diabetes who are at high risk for acute, life-threatening complications from severe episodes of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

ViaCyte said Monday that healthcare regulators in both the United States and Canada have permitted the company to proceed with the early stage clinical trial, which calls for enrolling roughly 40 patients at medical centers that include UC San Diego and the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. The goal of the trial is to assess the safety of the PEC-Direct... Read more »

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Trump’s Cybersecurity Czar Talks WannaCry, Industry Partnerships

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 17:26

The Trump administration’s plan for strengthening the nation’s cyber defenses is starting to come into focus.

Rob Joyce, a special assistant to the president and the White House’s cybersecurity coordinator, spoke in Boston Monday at an event promoting the launch of CyberMA, a Massachusetts affiliate of the national CyberUSA initiative. CyberMA is a MassTLC-led group that aims to boost local cybersecurity innovation, education and workforce development, and readiness against cyber attacks.

Joyce’s visit was timely. Eleven days ago, President Donald Trump signed an executive order laying out a strategy for improving data security for federal agencies and critical U.S.... Read more »

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Envision the Future: Request Your Invite to Our Napa Summit June 8-9

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 11:45

We are getting down to the wire—just two and a half weeks until Xconomy’s most unique, up close and personal event of the year: our sixth annual Napa Summit: The Xconomy Retreat on Technology, Jobs, and Growth. We have only about 20 spots left open, and a number of those will likely go fast. So request your invitation today to this special conference in the heart of California wine country and join a standout group of executives, innovators, investors, technologists, and entrepreneurs who will be among your fellow attendees.

Attendance is limited to no more than 100. To request your invite,... Read more »

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What’s Next for American Workers as Trade, Automation Roil Manufacturing?

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 10:00

When Donald Trump heralded Ford’s announcement earlier this year that it would invest $1.2 billion in its Michigan plants, it was seen by some as the fulfillment of campaign promises to “bring jobs back” and put America first.

Last week, the other shoe dropped with reports that Ford will cut 10 percent of its global hourly workforce while holding on to the tech talent it has recruited in the past few years to work on electric and self-driving cars. Bloomberg reported that the cuts were a response to lagging stock prices and CEO Mark Fields’s desire to trim company costs this... Read more »

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Bio Roundup: Termeer Tribute, ASCO Peeks, Califf’s New Gigs & More

Fri, 05/19/2017 - 07:35

Exhausted by the nonstop drama in Washington, DC? Immerse yourself instead in this week’s biotech headlines. Let’s start with a tribute to a life sciences icon, then we’ll head around the Xconomy network with early news from the nation’s big yearly cancer meeting. There was also momentum onthe IPO front and new gigs for high-profile folks (with just one stop on Capitol Hill along the way, we promise). Let’s get right to it.


—Henri Termeer, the former Genzyme executive widely credited as a pioneer of the orphan drug business, passed away suddenly at the age of... Read more »

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The Reconfigurable Future of Healthcare

Fri, 05/19/2017 - 06:40

Data plays a more central role in healthcare than ever before. It won’t be long before every person’s genome is sequenced at birth, with follow-up sequencing done at regular intervals throughout life. Each genomic check-up would produce roughly 180 gigabytes of data that will need to be processed, analyzed, and stored. The promise of using such data is that doctors would be able to intercept diseases before symptoms develop, taking preventative medicine to a whole new level.

Already, whole-genome sequencing is helping to diagnose otherwise-hidden diseases, while machine-learning tools can enhance a doctor’s decision-making by scouring reams of data with speed... Read more »

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Aira Raises $12M to Expand Services for Blind and Visually Impaired

Fri, 05/19/2017 - 01:01

After beta testing technology that provides remote assistant services for the blind, San Diego-based Aira has raised $12 million in a Series B round that it says will enable the company to expand its service to thousands of visually impaired users this year.

Aira takes advantage of the gig economy by connecting online independent contractors (via dedicated wireless bandwidth provided by AT&T) to guide low-vision users equipped with a modified version of Google Glass, the Internet-connected eyewear. Like an air traffic controller, Aira agents talk to users through a speaker in the eyewear to guide them through their surroundings, read menus,... Read more »

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Study Stakes San Diego’s Claim in Genomics: $292M in 2016 VC Deals

Thu, 05/18/2017 - 13:59

Preliminary findings from an economic impact study show that genomics is emerging as a distinct innovation cluster in San Diego.

The San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. began collecting data for the report earlier this year in a bid to assess how genomics fits into San Diego’s innovation economy. Final results of the EDC study won’t be released until June 19, the first day of the Bio International Convention, as part of a panel discussion on the local genomics cluster.

But some details were offered yesterday by Kirby Brady, the EDC’s director of research, following a press conference intended to promote... Read more »

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Figuring It Out: Addressing Practices That Impact Women in Technology

Thu, 05/18/2017 - 07:20

The Women’s March, New Tech Northwest’s annual “Women in Tech” event, and International Women’s Day are just a few of the recent events prompting important conversations around inequality in the tech industry. These discussions, while breakthroughs in many regards, are still just the beginning of real change. I’ve gathered a number of ideas for what we can and should do next to make the tech industry more diverse and inclusive, starting right here in Seattle.

Assessing our current situation

Women have consistently been paid less than their male counterparts and research shows that over time the number of women working in... Read more »

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Cybersecurity Firm Iboss Expands in Boston, Not Abandoning San Diego

Wed, 05/17/2017 - 16:15

[Updated 5/17/17, 4:53 pm. See below.] Iboss, a San Diego-based cybersecurity firm that opened a small satellite office in Boston last year, has expanded its presence in Massachusetts and decided to designate the local outpost as its corporate headquarters.

Iboss held an event Wednesday to announce that it’s moving into a new 20,000-square-foot space in downtown Boston and naming it the company’s head office. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker was scheduled to attend the event and tout the growth of the state’s cybersecurity cluster and companies like iboss. The company has grown to about 100 employees in Boston, with... Read more »

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Proofpoint Uncovers Second Cyberattack That Uses Stolen NSA Tools

Wed, 05/17/2017 - 02:41

Cybersecurity company Proofpoint, which helped slow the sweeping global ransomware attack WannaCry after it emerged Friday, has now discovered a much more insidious, profitable, and potentially widespread cyberattack called Adylkuzz.

Adylkuzz doesn’t demand, as WannaCry does, that victims pay a ransom to retrieve their data. Adylkuzz makes no announcement when it quietly invades target computers. Instead, it stealthily recruits those computers into a network of cryptocurrency miners that stuff the hackers’ digital wallets full of a secretive unit of exchange called Monero, Proofpoint says. Such currencies can be used to buy illegal goods, including drugs and stolen credit cards. Hundreds... Read more »

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Partnership on AI Adds Corporate, NGO Members, Charts Initial Course

Tue, 05/16/2017 - 19:55

Artificial intelligence is a booming business in 2017, but one that also comes with significant baggage in the form of public misunderstanding, potential job losses, and fear.

Last fall, A.I. competitors Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, IBM, and Google banded together to form the Partnership on AI to Benefit People and Society, an industry-led attempt to get ahead of the many social, ethical, and economic issues presented by the advent of technology with increasingly human-like capabilities. Apple joined the group as another founding member earlier this year.

On Tuesday, the Partnership on AI (PAI) announced nearly two dozen new members, including more... Read more »

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Fake Photo Blocker: Truepic Introduces App to Verify Online Images

Tue, 05/16/2017 - 12:32

Craig T. Stack said the idea for Truepic came to him from a multitude of online sources.

There’s the matchmaking service founded by his wife Greta, who insists on meeting personally with clients because the photos submitted with some online applications just don’t match—or the image seems decades out of date. There are tales about fake photos of Super Bowl tickets sold on Craigslist and of misrepresented homes rented on Airbnb.

There’s the proliferation of phony photos that went viral during last year’s presidential campaign: the doctored photo of Republican candidate Donald Trump with his parents in Ku Klux Klan outfits... Read more »

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5 Takeaways From the WannaCry Ransomware Attack

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 23:38

This may be the incident that finally pushes ransomware into the mainstream—and also forces both organizations and malicious hackers to adapt their approaches when it comes to this type of attack.

The “WannaCry” virus, which first hit companies and healthcare services on Friday, has infected some 300,000 computer systems in 150-odd countries. By exploiting a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows, the malware freezes computers, locks up data and files, spreads to other systems, and asks for a ransom in bitcoin payments.

Yet, for all the brouhaha, the attack had netted less than $70,000 as of late Monday— that’s according to sources tracking... Read more »

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Ionis Touts Phase 3 Win, But Safety Worries Cloud Nerve Drug Study

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 09:30

Two RNA-based drugs for the same disease, a rare, crippling nerve condition called familial amyloid polyneuropathy (FAP) with no available treatments in the U.S., could soon be under an FDA review at the same time.

The first of those treatments, from Carlsbad, CA, Ionis Pharmaceuticals, is on its way there—but are the data are good enough to satisfy regulators and Ionis’s partner, GlaxoSmithKline?

It’s tough to say, because Ionis (NASDAQ: IONS) isn’t releasing many details yet, and some safety issues have emerged in clinical testing. Those concerns appeared to drive Ionis shares down in early trading, while rival Alnylam Pharmaceuticals... Read more »

Reprints | Share:   Raises $24M for “Pharma Markets” that Outsource R&D

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 06:00

San Diego’s set out in 2006 to disrupt part of the pharmaceutical business by providing an Amazon-like approach to the business of hiring contract research organizations (CROs). The company, which operates a network of online markets for outsourcing biomedical research services and supplies, has raised $24 million in a new round of venture funding.

Founding CEO Kevin Lustig said will use the additional cash to expand its operations. In particular, he wants to sign up more pharmaceutical companies to use the Web-based platform, which enables CROs to bid on pharma research projects and automates the contracting process.

Lustig argued... Read more »

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